Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't wait for me Argentina...

Sung to the tune from the Broadway play of the 1970s, “Don’t wait for me, Argentina…”

Thanks to the “Wines of Argentina team” I can plainly state that more than three read this blog. Also thanks to the “team” I can plainly state that marketers are sometimes funny, if not downright unscrupulous—or maybe they think that bloggers are unscrupulous—or maybe some bloggers are.

Here’s one way to calculate the scruples of a blogger: if a blogger writes this month about the white wines of Torrontes, be careful. You see, the blogger may be writing about that subject for the chance to win a free trip to Argentina, courtesy of the “Wines of Argentina team.”

Get it?


Here’s how it works. The “Wines of Argentina team” sends the following email to bloggers:
"We've seen your wine blog and would like to invite you to write a post about Argentine Torrontes and participate in our Blogger of the Month contest. You will have the chance to win a free trip to Argentina! Here is a link for more info
Looking forward to reading your blog post!"
The email is signed by the Wines of Argentina team.

If the “team” made an effort to read my blog it would know that I am a rather cantankerous old journalist who takes ethics extremely seriously, and that I would likely consider this “contest” a breach in ethics.

Here’s why: a journalist neither writes a story for a marketing entity nor does a journalist write a story to enter a contest for freebies.

I know that the official Argentine language is Spanish, and I know that there’s a large Italian contingency in Argentina that speaks a kind of SpanItalian.

Still, every member of the team should know what this means: quid pro quo.

This situation reminds me of an offer made to bloggers concerning a wine refrigerator and how to get yourself one. In my view, that, too, was an ethical breach in the waiting.

Now I know that there are some in the blogosphere who consider my attitude “old school.” I know because some bloggers have told me so after I’ve pointed out what I consider their actions as skirting on thin ethical ice. But I refuse to back down, and so I repeat to my three other readers: if you read a blog entry this month about Torrontes, remember that old “grain of salt.”

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
March 2011. All rights reserved.

Lifting a blog entry without the author's permission (and without recompense) is a copyright infringement--period.


  1. Thomas,

    Yeah, I've gotten that letter a couple times now. At least they have cleaned it up a bit, the first one was written so poorly and had typos up the wazoo. Never considered writing a post to win a trip which may sound odd to the people that felt my COF2011 trip was questionable as far as ethics go, but me is an entirely different thing.

    When offered the trip to Friuli we were told upfront that we were under NO obligation to write favorable posts or any posts at all for that matter, and even post of unfavorable reviews would be included on the COF site. The Consortium of wineries in Collio Orientali del Friuli was to pay all of our accommodations and we were to give our impressions...kind of rolling the dice after that whole Barbera deal last year where bloggers ripped the vintage apart. But I know there were many, (a certain importer comes to mind) that felt the whole trip was unethical and that we were sell outs. Not much I can do about that other than disagree.

    That being said I do think that writing posts in order to win a trip, without disclosing that the reason you are posting is to win that trip....well I do think that is dishonest or at the very least questionable as far as ethics go. Now if a blogger makes it clear that they are posting about Argentina trying to win a free trip there, well then I would have no problem with that and I actually think many of their readers would have fun following along....

    Just my two cents.

  2. I'll agree with Samantha. IF you state up front you're writing because you'll be entered to win a drawing for a trip (or whatever the prize may be), I'm okay with full disclosure. (I'm not so okay with NOT disclosing at all.)

    I also think it's perfectly okay to say your own standards are not the same as the marketers and not participate in their promotion.

    I do like Torrontes. :-)

  3. Well, ladies, I beg to differ.

    If bloggers want to be taken to be journalists, then they must live by the standards of journalism.

    Do you think that any blogger who writes a negative review of Torrontes has a chance at winning the trip?

    If the answer is no, then every blogger has tacitly agreed to write a positive review. If the bloggers disclosed that they must write a positive review in order to win a trip--they'd be telling the truth up front, but they'd also be telling readers that their review is relatively worthless.

  4. Thomas,
    I don't think all of us do consider ourselves journalists. I know I don't...but I'm guessing I know your feelings about the COF2011 bloggers now.

    I think readers are smarter than many give them credit for, I mean how many REALLY buy things on a blogger's write up? I'm guessing not much wine is moved when The Brix Chicks do a feature, just sayin'. If a blogger says upfront that they are trying to win a free trip I'm fairly confident that most readers will be aware of why they are reading a favorable review. Much in the same way I take with a grain of salt many reviews from the wine press that relies on free samples to continue cranking out their publication, gotta make sure they stay on the sample list....

    This is why I am always touting the importance of a good, repeat GOOD retailer. One that takes the time to learn about their customers and are reliant on their return to stay afloat. Stores that do nothing but post scores and regurgitate snippets from magazines are dependent on those publications and I for one have no respect for that and see some ethical issues there as well.

    Guess we will just have to agree to disagree here kid.

  5. Sam,

    You do not know how I feel about your recent trip, because I never said anything about it.

    If you were not asked to do anything in return for the trip, then your trip was not a quid pro quo.

    Also, I agree that the majority of bloggers are not journalists, and writing as quid pro quo proves that point.

    I am in complete agreement with you about a GOOD retailer, as you try to be and I tried to be, and scores of others try to be (maybe even Wally tries to be ;).

    Yet, over my years in the business, I learned that somewhere along the way, critics did a good job of denigrating retailers to the point where it's work for a retailer to build the consumer's trust. Learned that the hard way.

  6. Thomas,
    We seem to be agreeing again....isn't that how we started following each others blogs?! I did not mean to imply that you had an issue with my trip, just never been good at inserting those :) dealies...

    It is hard work to be a retailer without using scores but in the end I do believe that we have the consumers interest at heart and thankfully for us, they know it.

  7. Sam,

    I'll come up with something on which we can disagree. Give me a few days.

    Hey, I'm considering taking a cross country train trip after I complete my radiation treatment. So you now are warned that I might show up in California, and so that you can get out of town, it is likely to be in June.

  8. Thomas,
    Um YAY! Okay I'm gonna practice, :)

    My birthday is in June....the big 40 this year and meeting you would be quite the gift I really must say.

  9. Gemini?

    Me early July--sign of cancer; rather fitting, don't you think?

    Me also long past 40...

  10. Gemini is correct, the 5th. When in July? Jeremy is also a Cancer, in fact he and John Kelly share the same birthday...the 13th.

  11. Hey, I heard they were giving away free wine here....

  12. Yes, we are, for a good review...

  13. I like some producers' Torrontes, but not all.
    I did not receive an email from Argentina.
    I do not read wine reviews.
    I am not a journalist.
    I have four people read my blog.
    My birthday is this month.
    Did I miss anything?

  14. Obviously, Vinogirl, you missed the email for Argentina.

    Oh, how do you get four readers and I get only three?

    Another point being missed in this situation is how cheaply the PR people can get bloggers to work for them: one winner, but how many take the bait? I usually request payment direct when I work for someone.

  15. Don't cry for me Argentina
    The truth is I am not for sale
    All through my wild days
    My mad existence
    I kept my promise
    I can't be bought

  16. Nice Henrik. Just one change to facilitate the ending rhyme:

    Don't cry for me Argentina
    The truth is I am not for sale
    All through my wild days
    My mad existence
    I kept my promise
    I'll Keep my distance

  17. Jeps - Much better! - And it's defintely you... :)

  18. I'm a long-distance runner ;)

    Nice to see you again--it's been a while.

    Just last week, I paid off the mortgage on our place in the Finger Lakes. Now, to capitalize from my equity in it: are you ready to make me an offer on it? Or maybe a trade of property between here and Italy?

  19. I wrote a Torront├ęs story, but disclosed that I am a whore. Cheers, John

  20. I read your post, John, and also your disclaimer. So I can be forgiven for not believing the sincerity in what you wrote about Torrentes; chalk it up to my misspent youth, and the knowledge of how well whores fake orgasms...

  21. I'm the Julia Roberts kind of whore, all sweet and true; I'd never fake it with you. Really Joe, um, er, Thomas...

  22. John,

    You should look so good.

    PS: Torrontes, not Torrentes, as I mistakenly wrote above.

  23. Congratulations Thomas. Finger Lakes will not be the same without you ...

    Give me a call when the Catholics will sell the house below you ...